The Girl in the Mirror
It coaxed me with a voice sweet as honey and words wonderfully captivating. Just like that, I followed it down the endless black hole of self-doubt and hatred towards my own body. Sometimes it was like my saviour, lending me a hand and pulling me up when I fell on my way to pursue perfection. Sometimes it was like my commander, telling me words that I can’t argue with and forcing me to do things that I can’t deny. It has a name. I call it Ed, short for eating disorder and another name for anorexia nervosa.
It all started with the seemingly harmless jokes that eventually turned into knives, and Ed stabbed every single word of them deep into my heart. I was never thin, always a bit more on the “wider” side than any of my friends. Not that I minded though, I was a ball of energy, bouncing around with a huge smile always on my face. Sure there were times when my weight and appearance would come up in conversations, and I used to be able to laugh them off and toss them into a hidden corner of my mind. However, like the crumpled paper you throw into the garbage can, they eventually piled up and spilled all over my mind.
The start of my grade ten year was when Ed first came into my mind. It scanned over the piles of emotional garbage spread all over my mind with a knowing smile on its face. It held up a piece, which has “meatball” written on it. It was a nickname my dad gave me. It said, “Look at this! Even he is making fun of you. He must be ashamed that his daughter is such a failure. You should really do something about it.”
Those words sunk in and my innermost insecurity floated out.
“What should I do?” I asked eagerly.
It suggested some incredulous acts against the human nature. Nevertheless, I voluntarily followed them, desperate to fill up the emptiness of failure with physical aspects of success.
Enduring the endless and painful nights where my stomach yelled out for help, ignoring the aromatic smell and the hurt on my mom’s face every time I rejected the food she cooked all became worth it for me when that needle kept moving towards the left. I still remember the ecstatic feeling when I fit into smaller sized clothes, and when other people commented on the positive change of my appearance. Those were the times when Ed would compliment me and encourage me to go one step further to receive more of the looks of jealousy sent my way.
Seeing my willingness to commit to it, Ed continued to give me countless amount of suggestions to help me become the “perfect” girl I wanted to be. My whole mind slowly became fixated on Ed’s tasks. I began to lose the passion in doing what I used to love, pay no attention during classes, and make excuses to avoid social situations to use the time to exercise.
While my social health broke down, my body was also flashing the warning red light. I began to lose hair, my period stopped coming, and I felt dizzy every time I stand up. However, I couldn’t stop. Not with Ed constantly yelling at me, not with all of the flaws in the girl I see in the mirror, and certainly not with all of the hard work I have done to get to this point. That number on the scale was just never low enough for me.
I realized it was wrong when I spent an entire math class calculating the calories I’ve consumed that day. I realized how much I am thinking about food, how many times I’ve said no to my friends, and how addicted I am to exercise. I explained my situation to my parents, and fortunately, they were supportive and understanding. We went to mental health clinics to seek help and were very grateful to have been helped so quickly.
However, even though my physical health is slowly getting back to normal, Ed is furious. It is pushing hard against the doctors, who are trying to push him away from the control centre of my mind.
Today, while writing this story, I’m still on my journey to recovery. Even if I’ve recovered fully, Ed will never disappear. It will always be a part of me, but pushed into a dark little corner of my mind where it belongs. The constant negative comments it makes will only remind me to love myself, my body, and appreciate what I have more. One can only truly love something else after learning to love themselves. One day in the near future, I’ll look in the mirror and find the same ball of energy and happiness that I’ve lost long ago on my way to pursue the “perfect” body. I’ll smile at her and tell her the words I should’ve said a long time ago, “I love you.”